“Hamilton” Goes Off-Script for Mike Pence Ambush

Hamilton Cast Ambushes VP-Elect Pence After Curtain Call

Actor Brandon Victor Dixon Publicly Lectures Pence

hamilton cast lecturing mike penxe

This past Friday night, November 18, 2016, the recently elected Vice President to be, Mike Pence, attended Hamilton on Broadway. The Vice President elect wasn’t warmly welcomed by most of the crowd when he turned up on with his children and their young cousins to see the wildly popular show. Rather than being courteous and civil, the Broadway crowd mostly booed him and showed unabashed displeasure at his arrival. The poor man is not even in the Oval Office yet and already the Liberal New York crowd are showing their lack of restraint and were acting quite boorish, something that Michelle Obama often cited as the high road, was nowhere to be seen on Friday night at Hamilton. As the show concluded, the actor who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, piled on and stepped forward to deliver a statement that he and his fellow cast members had hastily put together to embarrass Pence in front of his family.

Dixons Ham-Handed Negative Rhetoric

At the end of the show, Dixon began by acknowledging that Mike Pence was in the audience that night, thanked him for attending, and then asked him to hear him out for a brief moment. Dixon did not take the opportunity to congratulate Pence on his recent political success, indicating the Dixon was intending to go dark. While Mr. Pence had gotten out of his seat already and was in the hallway ready to exit the theatre, having been tipped off that there was to be an ambush by the cast, it was reported that he remained in the hallway and heard the entirety of the remarks. As some of the audience continued to boo at Pence, Dixon continued, “There’s nothing to boo, ladies and gentleman, we’re all here sharing a story of love.” But what followed contained no love. Dixon introduced the cast as the “diverse America” who are “alarmed and anxious” that the new administration will not protect them and he continued to lecture the hapless  Pence for another three minutes. Dixon continued that he hoped the show has inspired Pence to uphold our American values and work on behalf of “all of us.” He then repeated, to emphasize, “all of us.” It is unclear who he was referring to, but it could be something to do with President Trump’s plan to deport criminal illegal immigrants. Dixon continued by thanking Pence once again for sharing the show with the audience, taking part in this “diverse story told by men and women of diverse colors, creeds, and orientations.” The heavily liberal audience cheered loudly as this was clearly a political jab at Pence’s previous agenda, while he was 50th Governor of Indiana, which many liberal elites have accused of being anti-gay.
Dixon has gone on to say that “conversation is not harassment”, but what he did Friday night was not a conversation at all, it was a lecture from a bully pulpit, a theatrical ambush as it were. Dixon has also invited President-Elect Donald Trump to see the show, but one wonders how Manuel-Miranda and Dixon intend to dishonor him, ideally in front of their children too.

Lin Manuel Miranda on red carpetLin Manuel Miranda May Have Lost Control

Distracted by the versions of the show opening in Chicago and London, Lin Manuel Miranda may have made a big in mistake in allowing his cast to begin publicly calling out well-known figures that are in the audience to see the show. Dixon may have set the new low standard that says a show can now harass members of the audience if the cast doesn’t like their politics, or anything else about them. Miranda, Dixon and the rest of the show cast have made no secret of their love of Obama and Hillary Clinton (and all her potential illegal acts) and this move sets a new low-bar on Broadway, that may keep many celebrities at bay, fearful that they may be ridiculed. What’s next? Public humiliation of Bill Cosby before he is found guilty? Jibes at Tom Cruise about Scientology? Will Mel Gibson be dragged onto the stage and whipped for his anti-Semitic comments? Will the cast now ask people who voted for Trump and ridicule them? With Hamilton now being the most popular show ever on Broadway, the public humiliation from their bully pulpit (of an elected official who should deserve some degree of respect) continues to show the out-of-control arrogance that this production has now sunk to. Hamilton is now so popular that they believe that they can do anything they want. They are just one step away from John Lennon’s “More popular than Jesus”  statement.

Media critics have jokingly glibbed that for the insult and embarrassment to Pence and his family, Pence should have challenged Dixon to a duel, Aaron Burr style. Sam Rudy, the PR rep for Hamilton, attempted to paste over the cracks from this PR nightmare, but Rudy is no stranger to dishing out insults himself and so he had no comment for this piece. Playbill, which is in LMM’s back pocket, will probably publish an anti-Pence story, to indicate that it was Pence’s fault for coming to the show in the first place. It is expected that Sam Rudy actually supplied the tickets to Pence and his entourage, so we can assume that he was the one who tipped off the production for the ambush. There was a window of opportunity for Miranda and Dixon to build bridges with the new Republican government, but instead, he has encouraged deeper division through his ham-handed negative rhetoric, indicating he has learned nothing from the very show he stars in. Just like Aaron Burr himself, Dixon may well end up going to Europe to find his fortune, although it may just be on the London Hamilton stage, where LMM may have better control.

Trump Condemned the Speech in Tweets; Embarrassed Pence Reportedly Not Offended, But Questioned The Motive and Delivery

trump tweetsIn response to this post-show speech, Trump was reportedly angry. He wrote a tweet that Mike Pence was “harassed” at Hamilton, and continued, “This should not happen!” In a second tweet, he stated that the theatre “must always be a safe and special place,” stated that the cast was “very rude” to Mike Pence, and then, in a single word, commanded, “Apologize!” In addition to the coverage of the event, spurred on by many audience iPhones that captured the moment, this response from Trump has elicited uproar from Americans, both those who do and don’t support the President elect. While some have acknowledged that it is a bad precedent to set for the cast of a Broadway show to single out an audience member, others are appalled that the President elect would respond in a way that demonstrates his lack of support for dissent, which many would argue is a First Amendment right. But Pence wasn’t given an opportunity to respond, he was just yelled at by a a big mouth actor. Less than two weeks after the election, the growing divide in the country is beginning to show a continual string of public demonstrations of discontent and disagreement from liberals who cannot seem to accept that they lost the Presidential election. Nevertheless, Mike Pence took the high road and told Fox News on Sunday that he is “not offended” by the Hamilton cast’s speech. He reiterated that Donald Trump is preparing to be the President for all citizens of the United States of America, in line with Brandon Victor Dixon’s plea. No doubt, criminal illegal aliens will still be deported, something that even Alexander Hamilton could have got behind.

mike penceHamilton is the most successful new musical in years. The show has constantly been breaking box office records, tickets are unobtainable for many months in advance, and the rush ticket lines (especially when the show’s creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda was in the cast) have often been around the block. Furthermore, the show garnered international attention when it won the support of not only entertainment industry celebrities, but political celebrities as well. President Barack Obama has famously attended to show multiple times, along with his family, and Hillary Clinton is also a big fan of the show. It’s not only Democrats who have embraced the musical, which tells the story of America’s founding fathers through a retelling incorporating a diverse cast of African American and Latino individuals.  Republicans such as Dick Cheney have also been reportedly great fans of the show, but the cast was not told of his attendance and they did not have an opportunity to harass him.

Hamilton in Chicago Interrupted

In the start of a  public backlash, the Chicago version of Hamilton was interrupted on Sunday night by a Trump supporter, but in a most undemocratic way, the show did not give him the same opportunity to speak as Dixon did. The gentleman was escorted out of the theatre and arrested. No word yet of people’s plans to picket the New York Broadway show, but this may well be the turning point of the show’s success, after all 50% of the US population voted for Trump-Pence, so this act may well have turned Republican voters away from the show, something that many of the Hamilton investors will not be pleased to hear. #BoycottHamilton is starting to gather some steam, but it remains to be seen if it takes hold. When you take politician bashing to a new level, you should be very careful of any possible public retaliation, especially when its 50% of Americans who you just insulted.

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Pawdesh Salawi

Broadway Theatre Writer at New York Show Tickets Inc.
Pawdesh has been writing about Broadway ever since seeing her first show on the great white way in 2001. Now she sees over one hundred Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows a year. She is also a member of the Drama Desk and would love to vote on the Tony's one day. The Office Voted Her Most Likely To: Marry rich and divorce young
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